Tilt sensors, also known as inclinometers, are used to measure the angle of tilt of the object they are attached to, with reference to a horizon.
Inclinometers used in military and defense applications may have to be ruggedized to survive challenging environments, and may be engineered to survive immersion in liquid, high levels of UV radiation, sand ingress, high impacts, and more.
Rugged tilt sensors are used in a variety of military applications, including roll and blast detection in armored vehicles, robotic arm positioning, and weapons and antenna platform monitoring.
Fluid-Based & MEMS Inclinometers
Rugged inclinometers may use one of a number of technologies to measure the angle of tilt, including MEMS and fluid-based. MEMS inclinometers use micro-structures that change capacitance as they move due to being tilted. This capacitance can be used to calculate the angle of tilt. Fluid-based inclinometers also use change in capacitance to measure tilt angle – the sensor incorporates a cavity filled with dielectric liquid, and tilting the sensor causes the liquid to cover different amounts of a conductive plate. The plate and the liquid form a variable capacitor.
Dynamic Inclinometer Sensors
Tilt sensors may be static or dynamic. Static inclinometers measure only the effect on the sensor due to gravity. Dynamic inclinometers can also measure the effects of external acceleration, and are useful in applications where significant levels of shock and vibration are expected. They incorporate three-axis gyroscopes and accelerometers to provide accurate and reliable tilt measurements.
Inclinometers are typically single- or dual-axis if static, and three-axis if dynamic. They may provide analogue or digital outputs, and will have a specific measurement range, expressed as plus or minus a certain number of degrees either side of the level position.